Word of the Father...

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All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

Some time ago, an interesting blog post from an unbeliever came up in my Google Reader feed. I left no comment on the entry since it was interesting for none of the intended reasons. The writer was prepping his father's house for selling since his father can no longer live alone. Part of the prep work involved packing up his father's books for donating. He was sure to grab handwritten notes his father had written for keepsakes. The son said that, in the end, none of his father's books were worth keeping.

In the same breath, the son also said he was surprised to see just how "spiritual" his father was. He had no idea...

There were many theological works, mostly Roman Catholic. Highlighted and noted all over. Somehow, all this important "spiritual" stuff was never distilled to his son.

His father was connected to those books but he'd never connected the lessons with his son whose care he will now come under. I imagine he will enjoy the return on his fatherly investment. While he never taught his son his book learning, his son is definitely following the same curriculum. Here is how the son dispassionately talks about the import of books, including the ones he was preparing to donate:

Reading is certainly a catalyst for thought...I always want to move into the writing space, rather than just reading. When I write, it forces me to evaluate topics more rigorously. It requires me to think about what I think. It gives me space to explore, and allows me to dabble in the world of ideas.

Reading. A solitary mental massage. As a subculture, the Reformed Christian is in more danger of this pitfall than most. Reading (or writing) with disdain of physical connection.

There's a reason anonymous scribbles in the margins of used books affect re-sale values: that person has no connection to the one purchasing their old book. Likewise, you may have a large library...well-read and tended to with enlightening jots and scribbles throughout...be sure your sons are at least as well tended.

The discussion could just as easily be shifted to houses instead of books. Perhaps your parents marked your height on the doorposts of their home?

Each mark is a measure you were anxious to outgrow so a new mark could be made and outgrown as quickly as possible. That's just what it means to be a child... Perhaps it isn't always the case with girls, but it is with boys. Always competing against your height, stretching your back, craning your neck in an effort to inform your body you're ready to be grown up.

Sadly, those marks are covered up when it's time to sell the house...but if your parents don't sell it, those marks become the marks your son measures himself by.

It connects him to your childhood. He'll measure himself by those marks year after year anticipating the day he's finally reached your current height.

It's about retracing steps.

The past, that time when he wasn't, is lifted from a shroud of darkness and turned into an illuminated cloud. A blur, but a familiar one. Staring through time he can see his future in hope.

Solitary mental massages leave no marks. Such reading (and writing) is the antithesis of fatherhood. The sinews of the future are formed where your past resonates your son's present. That's why words have substance.

Never ascend to the lonely realm of ideas. From up there, you can only look down.

We grow looking up to heaven from the dust of the earth. If we provide no reason for our sons to retrace our steps, how will they ever look up?

Craig French is a former deacon and member at Christ the Word (PCA) in Toledo, OH. He and his wife Tai have four daughters.